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Flu and Covid-19 autumn boosters

Flu and Covid-19 autumn boosters are available now

Published on 11 October 2023 07:41 AM

Charity urges older people to get their flu and covid-19 autumn boosters 

Age UK Rotherham urges older people to protect their health by having an autumn Covid-19 booster and a flu jab to help them reduce their risk of winter illness. 

Getting a Covid-19 booster and flu vaccine is one of the most important things an older person can do. They are most at risk from the serious impacts of flu and Covid-19 so it is vital that they protect themselves as soon as they can. 

Everyone aged 65 and over will be offered a free Covid-19 autumn booster and flu jab this autumn. Unpaid carers, residents of older adult care homes, health and social care staff, and household contacts of people with weakened immune systems are also eligible for free flu and Covid-19 booster vaccinations. In addition, those aged under 65 with particular health conditions are also eligible. 

The UK Health Security Agency’s interim analysis of the 2022/2023 flu season suggested that there were 14,500 excess deaths in England associated with flu infection and around 12,500 of these deaths were in the over 65’s cohort. 

Last winter in Rotherham 83.3% of people aged 65 and over had the flu vaccination, exceeding the WHO recommended target of 75% and helping to reduce the number of flu cases in the borough. The vaccine protects against the main types of flu virus and although there's still a chance of getting flu after receiving the vaccination, the symptoms are likely to be much milder and should not last as long. It will also reduce the chances of spreading the virus to others who may be more at risk of serious complications. 

Barbara Dinsdale, CEO for Age UK Rotherham, said “Our advice to older people is to please take up the offer of the Covid-19 autumn booster and a flu jab when it comes your way. Millions of eligible older people took the opportunity of having the spring booster, so we are urging everyone to do the same this autumn. It’s perfectly safe to have both the flu vaccine and Covid-19 booster together, and often more convenient too. So, if you are offered either vaccination, please accept – you’ll be doing yourself and possibly others you come into contact with, a big favour. 

“Vaccinations are the best defense we have against having our health undermined this winter. What’s more, with all the worries about energy prices it’s more important than ever to stay fit and well this year, and getting these vaccinations will help”. 

Here are some common Flu and Covid-19 Booster Frequently Asked Questions:  

  • Is the flu worse than having a heavy cold?

Flu kills - flu is much worse than a heavy cold. While some people will get the flu and recover others will get complications caused by flu and become seriously ill and may need to go to hospital. 

  • Does the flu vaccine give you flu?

It is impossible to get the flu from the adult vaccination as it doesn’t contain the live virus. It takes two weeks from being vaccinated to it becoming fully effective, so it is important to get it as soon as possible. 

  • What are the flu vaccination side effects?

Risk of a serious side effect from having winter vaccines is very low. For the most part, the side effects are mild, and short-lived. Most common is experiencing soreness around the site of the injection and aching muscles. 

  • Can I get the flu or Covid-19 vaccines if I’m not feeling my best?

If you have a minor illness like a cold, you are ok to book in your flu vaccine, but it is recommended that you wait until significant illness or fever have passed before having the jab. 

  • Are the flu and Covid-19 vaccines different and do they protect against different illnesses?

It’s important to get both vaccinations this winter as one will not protect you against both illnesses. It is also possible to have both vaccinations at the same time. 

  • Can I have my flu vaccine and Covid-19 booster in the same appointment?

Yes, if you are eligible to receive these two vaccines, it is safe to receive both vaccines in the same appointment, but it’s important that you don’t wait to try and schedule both vaccinations at the same time as this may delay your protection over winter. Please take up the offer of each vaccine as soon as you can, even if they are on different dates. 

  • Why do I need an autumn booster?

The virus is still with us and is still making people very ill. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has stated that winter will remain the season when the threat from Covid-19 is greatest for individuals and communities. Viruses, like Covid-19, spread much more easily in winter when we socialise indoors, so it’s important that everyone eligible tops up their protection with an autumn booster. Over time the protection provided by vaccination reduces and this is why we are offered a flu vaccine every year and booster vaccinations for Covid-19. Vaccines are also updated to protect against different strains of the virus. 

  • How effective is the Covid-19 booster vaccine?

The Covid-19 vaccination will reduce the chance of you suffering from the effects of Covid-19. The Covid-19 vaccines have saved more than 100,000 lives and significantly reduced hospitalisations . With both flu and Covid-19 expected to be circulating this winter, it’s important to boost your immunity and help protect yourself and others. 

  • Can I still catch flu or Covid-19 after having the vaccines?

You can still catch Covid-19 or the flu, but having the vaccinations will reduce the chance of you experiencing severe symptoms and being hospitalised. It may take a few days for your body to build up some protection from the booster. 

  • Do I need to receive the same type of vaccine or booster as my previous ones?

No, all Covid-19 vaccines in use are highly effective and provide a strong booster response. When you attend your appointment, the NHS will offer you a safe, effective vaccine.